May 2018: Asthma and Allergy Research Round-Up

May is Asthma and Allergies Awareness Month. One in 13 Americans has asthma, and asthma symptoms account for 14.2 million doctor's visits a year. Allergic asthma is the most common kind; 90% of children with asthma also have allergies, and 50% of adults with asthma have them. In all, 50 million people in the U.S. have asthma.

For people living with asthma, new and better treatments are a necessity. That's why this month, we've gathered together the latest research into asthma and allergy treatments, underlying causes, and quality of life challenges.

"Smart inhalers” improve symptoms for patients in Louisville

A new study has found that including a small sensor on "smart inhalers” can help reduce symptoms and inhaler use by monitoring areas and situations that exacerbate symptoms.

The study followed residents in Louisville, Kentucky living with asthma. After 12 months of using the smart inhalers, the patient group saw a 78% reduction in rescue inhaler use. They also saw a 48% increase in symptom-free days.

The smart inhaler worked by collecting data on when and where patients used them. That information was then combined with environmental data to track factors like air pollution.

In addition to improving symptoms for patients, the study also led to recommendations for improving air quality in Louisville, which had been ranked as one of the most difficult cities to live in for people with asthma.

More evidence for link between air pollution and asthma

A new study has strengthened the link between outdoor air pollution and asthma in adults. It also looked into the underlying mechanisms behind asthma symptoms, focusing on 8-isoprostane (8-iso), a compound exhaled in breath that's believed to be a biomarker of lung tissue damage.

Researchers examined data from 608 adults, including 240 with asthma and active symptoms. The research team looked at the impact of long-term exposure to heavy traffic and different outdoor air pollutants.

The data showed that high traffic intensity and air pollution exposure, along with 8-iso concentration, increased the risk of asthma symptoms, including asthma attacks, respiratory symptoms and/or increased medication symptoms.

"It is very well known that short-term exposure to air pollution is associated with increased asthma symptoms, hospitalizations and use of asthma medication, but studies on the associations between long-term exposure to outdoor air pollution and asthma among adults are still scarce,” said lead researcher Anaïs Havet, from the French Institute of Health and Medical Research at Inserm, France.

The researchers hope the study data will be used to improve legislation around air pollution, especially from motor vehicles.

One in five people with hay fever have taken sick days from it

This isn't news to anyone who lives with hay fever, but new research found that the toll symptoms take on the workforce is more severe than non-sufferers may expect.

Of the 1,660 hay fever patients surveyed, 19% reported that they've taken a sick day because of symptoms. But they don't always feel comfortable telling their boss the real reason behind their absence – one-third said that they lied about the reason behind their absence, for fear of it not being taken seriously.

Hay fever symptoms can be severe, from headaches and blocked sinuses to difficulty hearing. In the study, 44% of participants said that symptoms make it difficult to stay focused during the workday.

Despite the impact on quality of life, hay fever patients report that others around them don't understand the severity of their symptoms. In the study, almost half of participants agreed that those around them without pollen allergies aren't very understanding of their symptoms and their effects.

If you're interested in getting involved in asthma and allergy research yourself, we can help you find a clinical trial that matches you. Get started below.